HOPES HIGH AS STYLE MAGS CRUISE INTO 2ND QUARTER
Byline: Lisa Lockwood
NEW YORK — Most fashion and lifestyle magazine publishers are headed from a successful first quarter into the second brimming with optimism, and they have the Internet and a rebounding beauty business to thank.
“We had an incredible first quarter,” said Louis Cona, publisher of InStyle. He attributed the gains to a 52 percent increase in beauty and a 95 percent hike in fashion. In addition, InStyle ran a special Weddings issue that carried over 110 ad pages.
Cona said he expects an equally strong second quarter, with ad pages estimated to increase by 47 percent. Beauty, he predicts, will be up 36 percent.
On the newsstand, InStyle’s single copy sales increased 10 percent in the second half of 1999, while subscriptions jumped 19 percent.
Richard Beckman, vice president and publisher of Vogue, attributed his strong first quarter to “continued vitality of the book.” He said, coming off a strong 1999 he had anticipated a conservative gain. “But the first quarter’s been terrific, and we’re up 11 percent.”
As far as predictions for the second quarter, Beckman said April will have double-digit gains, and then after that, “Who knows? May and June look OK. Once you catch a wave, you ride it for a while and enjoy it. We’ll have a challenging second half because of the enormous gains last year.”
He said the European business was looking particularly strong.
Still, the newsstand continues to be difficult, although he said the decline was offset by “nice subscriber increases.” Vogue’s newsstand sales were off 13 percent in the second half, but subscriptions rose 9 percent, according to Publishers Information Bureau. Jeannette Chang, vice president and publisher of Harper’s Bazaar, attributed the first-quarter jump to the magazine’s relaunch under editor in chief Kate Betts. Chang said beauty ad pages were up 56 percent, and apparel, footwear and accessories increased 11 percent.
The April issue, which is dedicated to the Internet, is expected to be up between 9 and 10 percent.
“We look like we’ll be up 10 percent in the second quarter,” she added.
Chang attributed the gains to new advertisers in the automotive and home areas, as well as product launches from Guerlain and Lancome. She also cited increased schedules from Cole-Haan, Estee Lauder and Giorgio Armani.
For the second half of 1999, Harper’s Bazaar’s newsstand sales declined 12 percent, while subscriptions rose 5 percent.
While Elle showed a 3.2 percent ad page gain for the first quarter, the real news was a big gain in revenues, said Carl Portale, senior vice president and publisher.
“We’re up big-time in revenue. We’re just getting more for the page. We’re absolutely on the rate card,” said Portale, noting that in previous years, they were not. In April, Elle will run a special E-Elle supplement that will carry 35 pages of Internet business. Those advertisers aren’t the pure players, but rather luxury companies’ Web sites, like Cartier.com and Gucci.com. He said the April issue is up about 4 percent.
Elle’s newsstand sales in the second half of 1999 were off 9 percent, but subscriptions rose 1 percent.
Self magazine has managed to turn its business around with a new design, using more color photography and outdoor shots and new departments and section headings.
“We had big gains in beauty and a really big March issue, which was up 25 percent,” said Beth Brenner, publisher of Self. She noted that the cosmetics business was up 35 percent for the quarter, and overall beauty, including hair products, increased 6 percent.
She said many beauty advertisers that were in the magazine last year increased their schedules this year, including Revlon, Almay, Elizabeth Arden, Chanel, Shiseido and Lancome. Although fashion was soft, she said she expects that category to rebound in the second quarter. New business for March and April include Victoria’s Secret, JC Penney, Keds, Woolrich and Aerosoles.
Brenner noted that Self’s April business is almost as good as March, with an 18 percent ad page gain.
“A lot is due to the redesign. The look is different. Everything we’ve done since last August has changed people’s opinions about where we’re going,” said Brenner.
Susan Plagemann, publisher of Cosmo, attributed its first-quarter gains to increases across all categories. She said fashion business gained 18 percent, largely attributable to new accounts and increased pages from existing advertisers.
The beauty category showed a 12 percent gain, with new business coming from Victoria’s Secret Beauty, BeneFit, Almay, Revlon, DKNY Fragrance, as well as increased space from Avon, Calvin Klein, Redken, Maybelline and L’Oreal.
The Internet business continues to percolate. Cosmo ran 16 pages of dot-com business in the first quarter, up from two last year. The magazine ran 19 pages of liquor business, up from six last year.
She said April business “was a little soft,” but that Cosmo’s having a strong May and June.
Cosmo also made strides on the newsstand. For the second half of 1999, newsstand sales increased 2.2 percent, even with a price hike. Cosmo raised its cover price in July from $2.95 to $3.50.
Allure said it’s seeing a turnaround in its beauty fortunes. For the first quarter, beauty was up 6.2 percent, said Erica Bartman, publisher. She attributed it to increases from such companies as Calvin Klein Fragrances, Christian Dior, Giorgio Armani, Lancome, Neutrogena and Almay, as well as the launch of Calvin Klein Cosmetics in the first quarter. She also said she’s carrying Clarins again.
Bartman believes that “beauty is turning around.” She said that her fashion business isn’t up, but she had a new account in Ellen Tracy and increased commitments from Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci and Victoria’s Secret.
She said for the second quarter, Allure will target watches and jewelry.
“Things have come together this year. Last year was a building year,” said Bartman.
For the second half of 1999, Allure’s newsstand sales were off 5 percent, but subscriptions rose 6 percent.
Cynthia Lewis, vice president and publisher of Marie Claire, said beauty pages gained 12.2 percent in the first quarter, while fashion ad pages were up 15.5 percent. Marie Claire carried six pages of Internet business, versus one page a year ago.
She said the April issue would be very strong, with ad pages up 44 percent. “We had a real lift in additional business that couldn’t run in March,” said Lewis. For May, Lewis estimates an 18 percent gain.
“I see about another eight [dot-com] pages coming in the second quarter,” said Lewis.
Overall, for the second quarter, Marie Claire expects a 19.4 percent jump in ad pages, which would bring the first half to a 13.4 percent ad page gain.
For the second half of 1999, Marie Claire was among a select few that had an increase on the newsstand — up 7 percent. Subscriptions rose 9 percent.
Susan Blank, the new publisher of W, said the first quarter was slightly up from a year ago. “Our core retail partnerships remain very strong,” said Blank. She said the Internet is a strong growth category, and W has gained new accounts in the automotive, tobacco and liquor categories.
April is running 15 percent ahead in ad pages. W will run its first Body & Soul beauty book, carrying 20 ad pages, in that issue. In May, it will run its first photography issue.
Peter K. Hunsinger, vice president and publisher of Vanity Fair, said, “The beauty business was up 48 percent [in the first quarter], but fashion was off somewhat.”
He said VF ran 28 pages of Internet business in the first quarter, versus none a year ago.
“It was fashion, beauty and jewelry-driven,” said Hunsinger.
He said he expects an 8 to 10 percent gain in the second quarter, and April is the largest issue ever, with 316 ad pages.
Vanity Fair’s newsstand sales for the second half of 1999 dipped 2 percent, as did subscriptions.
Glamour, whose ad pages were off 13 percent in the first quarter, is in the midst of putting new people, programs and platforms together under new publisher Deborah Fine. She attributed the decline in the quarter to being up against editor in chief Bonnie Fuller’s first fashion issue in March 1999, which was also the 60th anniversary issue. She said that excluding last year’s issue, over the past 10 years the March issues have averaged 165 ad pages, and for March 2000, it ran 165.4 ad pages.
She said beauty business was even in the first quarter. New business included BeneFit, Dolce & Gabbana Spa and Noxzema, while fashion was off 50 percent.
“There were a lot of reduced budgets and TV spending increases,” said Fine.
“The first quarter we look at as a transition time. People are responding to the power of the brand our circulation strength,” said Fine.
She added that she has broken 25 pages of new fashion business that will bear out over the next six months.
As for circulation, she said that newsstand sales for the second half of 1999 were up 9 percent, but subscriptions were off 5 percent.
“The second quarter is looking good. We’re beginning to show a return. We’re up against a lot of big advertorial sections. Some we’ll be renewing, and others we won’t. We have 100 pages of new business.”